My First Coup d'Etat chronicles the coming-of-age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence "lost decades" of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of a coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father, a minister of state, was suddenly missing, then imprisoned for more than a year.
My First Coup d'Etat offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africa's success story. This is a one-of-a-kind book: Mahama's is a rare literary voice from a political leader, and his personal stories work on many levels - as fables, as history, as cultural and political analyses, and, of course, as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, would grow up to be vice president of his nation. Though nonfiction, these are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader - much like the fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer - into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else.
Part memoir, part history lesson, My First Coup d'Etat is a collection of true stories by a Ghanian man who grew up close enough to his country's politics to have some real insight into Ghana's historical events. At the same time, he was far away long enough to have a spectator's perspective. What makes this collection even more interesting is that shortly after its release, the author, John Dramani Mahama, was sworn in as Ghana's newest President.
In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghana's recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes.
Sensitive, honest autobiographical essays… A wonderfully intimate look at the convulsive changes, and deep scarring, in post-colonial Africa.
Aminatta Forna, author of the Commonwealth Book Prize–winning The Memory of Love
Warm and engaging. The view of a complex world in microcosm.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, author of Weep Not, Child
Mahama's stories lure the reader into an unforgettable journey in which he interacts with history as a living tissue. The characters and the episodes are part of the everyday but one imbued with magic and suggestive power that go beyond the concrete and the palpable to hint at history in motion.
The modern country of Ghana is named after the kings of a medieval civilization in West Africa, the Wagadugu Empire. Later absorbed into the Mali Empire, they were a significant power in trans-Saharan trade, with their capital city on the southern edge of the desert being a major port-of-call for traders and political movers and shakers. Much of Ghana's population today can trace their roots back to this ancient state. Ghana was reputed as having the richest gold mines in the world -- hence the Colonial name for the region, "The Gold Coast."
Attracted by the country's riches, the Portuguese were the first to arrive in Ghana looking to trade in gold, pepper and ivory. To consolidate their position, in 1482, the Portuguese built one of the first European fortresses in sub-Saharan Africa -- in Elmina, on the Ghanian coast. The Portuguese managed to keep the other Europeans at bay...
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